I sincerely wish all my readers a happy and prosperous new year. We must certainly think that after what has been, things can only get better. I do believe that real change is now in the air. We have all been told to embrace change but nevertheless find it hard to do so.

I am not talking necessarily of political change but of economic change. Most of us have minimal influence on the former but much more so on the latter. In fact, I am thinking of changes in lifestyle. The time has come to "cut the frock to suit the cloth." Accept that small can be beautiful.

In view of not only the current economic realities and in a much larger sense "climate change," it is time to come to terms with the idea that the element of change is here to stay. So why fight it? Let's embrace it and decide what it means for our business and livelihood.

A box is a box

You still have your skills and your shop and quite possibly years of experience, but maybe not enough customers who are able or willing to have things made. They will still need and want things, however, and that is one source which could be tapped. Look for new customers and new products or services to offer them.

After all, we like to say in the cabinet business, "a box is a box." That may not be a charming way to describe the wonderful custom cabinetry you produce, but you and your tools can make many things even if you have not tried them before.

Take "green cabinets," for example. I know there are opportunities with such products more than ever before. Look into the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,  LEED , which has all the information you need to inform yourself of the implications on your business and product.

Pay attention to costs

Most importantly, look at your cost structure. As your sales go down, your percent of overhead increases. So, reduce your overhead as much as you can. If that is not enough, ask yourself at what point is it better to have the sale rather than lose it because your price is too high.

If you know the true cost of materials and labor, all you need to add to the price is the percentage of overhead that the particular sale requires to stay in business. Now, I am not saying that is a great long-term strategy, but it may have to serve you until things get better again.

Better again they will sooner or later be. In fact, it is logical that there will be a pent up demand and, eventually, things will turn around even as changes take place.

Houses will become smaller and so will kitchens and closets, although that does not necessarily mean of lesser quality.

I, for one, believe the contrary; they will become finer.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.